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10 September 2008

Spelling Bitterness

It has truly been enjoyable to see the liberal comments on the past couple of posts. I think I need to post self-depricating stories and political-tinged writings more often. By the way, I meant "liberal" in the sense of "free-flowing" rather than "politically left." Just wanted to stoke the fires a bit for no reason.

Moving on to new subject matter, I was in the Spelling Bee every year that it came around. In two of them I got close to being Supreme Speller in My School.

In the first of these, I was one of the final three contestants; I think I was in third or fourth grade. The word "excel" was given to me and I spelled it correctly. The judges then asked me to re-spell it because I'd apparently strung the "x" sound into the "c" sound. Heart pounding, I said "e-x-e-l," because I thought I'd gotten the "c" wrong since they asked me to do it again (I was manipulating the system, I suppose).

BZZZZZZZT! Wrong. I was frustrated because they were the ones who made me mess up.

In the second of these I was in the eighth grade -- my last possibility at winning fame and accolades and getting an album deal or whatever it is that Spelling Bee champs get to do -- and I was in the final two. I don't remember the word, but I spelled it (correctly) and the judges asked me to spell it again because I must have muttered it. I spelled it again (correctly) and they buzzed me as spelling it wrong! I even went to the judges' table and talked with them for a few minutes, explaining that they'd gotten it wrong, but they wouldn't reverse their decision.

So I lost again. The girl who won didn't get sick or anything in the next round, so my Vice Spelling Bee Championship Ring was useless.

I recall not liking Mrs. Raines and the other two judges for a rather long time after that. I eventually had to let go of it, because my anger was eating me up inside and not having any sort of positive impact at all. It was years and years later that I learned that this is what anger nearly always does, yet I still struggle with it. Bitterness tears us down at the least, and tears relationships down when we turn it upon others.

Most of the time, the people and groups at which we're angry or against whom we hold a grudge have no clue that we're mad at them. We often stoke an internal fire that makes us appear more and more "right" in our eyes, and them more and more "wrong." It's a battle within that causes us to walk around with a self-imposed thorn in our side and a scowl on our face. I wonder, does that make the world around us sarcastically say "There goes another 'happy' Christ-follower. That's what I want from life"?

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31-32, NLT)

Thanks to Leroy for help on the wrap-up!


Christy said...

I'm learning from my current Bible study that agape love is a response, not an emotion. We can't truly forgive someone unless we agape them. Something I still have to work on from day to day.

Melissa said...

This is something I have told you before that I have had a hard time overcoming in the past and even now sometimes.

Being a PK, I have seen a lot of back biting over the years that have hurt me and my family on a personal level. "Church issues" have often times turned into personal issues, especially at business meetings...which I hate.

I have in turn harbored A LOT of bitterness and an unforgiving spirit for so long until it caused me to be unable to trust others, let my guard down and probably miss out on some pretty awesome friendships. What an awful way to live your life, one may say. Very true.

I have found that more times than none the people I am mad at or holding a grudge at have moved on and don't even know I'm still huffing and puffing about it inside, and it's only ME that's miserable.

My problem I still have with all this is even though I am married and have my own family now, I am still tied to the "preacher's family" in one way or the other at times, and it is almost impossible to fully escape some of the confrontations and things that go on in a church behind the scenes. Going through what I have all these years and maturing some, too, might possibly make one think that I had learned from it or "gotten over it" so to speak. The truth is, it is a struggle every time. I am only human. I am older and able to tame my tongue better and hold my opinions to myself better than I used to, but it is only with God's help that I am not a bitter person like I used to be.

Letting go of a lot of those hard feelings and grudges was one of the best things I could have done. I read a book about 4 years ago titled, "When you can't say I forgive you," and it was great. It was then that I decided that I cannot hold things against people any longer that I will probably never see or speak to again. It was affecting my relationships, innocent bystanders who had no idea of how I'd been hurt in the past. It wasn't fair to them or me. For me, because the Bible says we should not have any hatred or grudges in our hearts towards someone else so that God will hear our prayers and honor our petitions brought before Him. For them, because it was just mean of me to take it out on them.

Now, when someone hurts my feelings or offends me, I am still human and may be miffed about it all, but I TRY (with God's help, of course) not to let bitterness be harbored or hard feelings to be kept.

Agape love is definitely an act and not an emotion. We are humanly unable to give Agape love; it is only through Him. Something I strive to do everytime there is a conflict like yours at the spelling bee. Easier to say, harder to do.

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